Cosmetic Science Major Matches Love of Chemistry With Interest in Makeup

April 15, 2020 | Features, Graduate News, News, UToday, Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
By Jon Meerdink

Roanne Reyes didn’t learn about The University of Toledo’s Cosmetic Science and Formulation Design Program until the second semester of her senior year of high school.

The Illinois native was looking at schools closer to home, but a near-random connection online introduced her to UToledo — and changed her path forever.

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“I was on Facebook, and there was an article talking about a woman who started her own business after she had studied cosmetic science,” she said. “And I thought ‘That’s a thing? People do that?’”

They do, but not just anywhere. UToledo’s Cosmetic Science and Formulation Design Program is one of the only of its kind in the entire country. The program, which focuses on the science behind personal products we use every day, promised the opportunity to learn about virtually every aspect of the cosmetic production process. Reyes was hooked.

“I’ve always loved science,” she said. “I was in AP chemistry and AP biology in high school, and I’ve always loved makeup and the idea of working in makeup production.”

She got to do just that and a whole lot more as a pharmaceutical sciences major — with minors in chemistry and professional sales to boot. In her four years at UToledo, Reyes has learned about producing all types of personal-care products, from makeup to shampoos, conditioners, deodorant and even baby-care products.

“If you have touched any personal-care product in the past 24 hours, we’ve probably made it or have had a hand in creating those kinds of products,” Reyes said.

Reyes also spent time researching the effects of ingredients in personal-care products, a key aspect of the pharmaceuticals industry. Every product intended for human use or consumption has to be rigorously researched and tested, a process she now knows well.

“If you have touched any personal-care product in the past 24 hours, we’ve probably made it or have had a hand in creating those kinds of products,” said Roanne Reyes, who will receive her bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences through the University’s unique Cosmetic Science and Formulation Design Program.

“I spent 10 weeks studying the effects of penetration enhancers on caffeine penetration into the skin,” she said. “The studies that I ran were 24-hour studies, so I had to be in the lab all the time.”

Her research paid off with several speaking engagements; she presented her findings at the Ohio Valley and Michigan chapters of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, as well as at a sunscreen symposium. She’s also planning to publish a paper on the research with Dr. Gabriella Baki, UToledo assistant professor of pharmaceutics and director of the Cosmetic Science and Formulation Design Program.

“I found Roanne to be a dedicated, enthusiastic and reliable researcher who worked well with little supervision,” Baki said. “She had great ideas and creative solutions for problems that would come up during the research projects. I cannot wait to see all the great things she will accomplish in her career.”

Reyes hopes to land a job on the East Coast after her May 9 graduation. She’s aiming for a position as a formulation chemist, preferring lab work to the sales part of the industry.

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